SHU reports 96 students currently positive for COVID-19, 32 recovered, off-campus students moved to distance learning after uptick in cases


FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — Sacred Heart University is among the list of Connecticut educational institutions seeing an increasing number of COVID-19 cases as students move back to campus and classes begin.

In a letter to students, parents, and staff Tuesday, Sept. 22, the school reported they currently have 96 positive virus cases in off-campus housing and 22 cases in SHU housing for a total of 118 positive cases.

Scholars Commons dorm has three new cases while The Ridge dorm has one new case.

A total of 32 students have recovered and left isolation.

SHU says they are lifting the cautionary quarantine on Merton Hall dorm effective Wednesday morning.

“This applies to students who have had a negative test. Students who have tested positive will need to complete their isolation. Students who left campus before being tested here will need to submit a negative result from a PCR test before returning,” SHU said in the letter.

The school reports they expect to test more than 25% of their residential student population in an effort to ramp up their testing efforts.

The Department of Public Health issued a Labor Day weekend COVID-19 alert, citing clusters of cases springing up among college students.

The university reported, as of Sunday, their cumulative total of positive coronavirus cases since Aug. 1 is now 32.

They report three new cases since Saturday, and 16 new cases in the last seven days.

The school has performed 6,962 COVID-19 tests on students with a 0.2% positivity rate.

Sacred Heart University reported Friday, 10 positive virus cases had been reported among off-campus students. All testing positive after the fall semester began earlier this week.

“The vast majority of them have all been at a local restaurant bar in the region,” said Sacred Heart’s Gary MacNamara.

The 10 students live at four different off-campus residences. Now all 1,700 students that live in Bridgeport in non—SHU off-campus housing are being switched to remote learning for the time being while the school tries to contain the spread.

“A lot of my friends who are upperclassmen can’t even come to practice anymore,” said freshman Cody Davis, who is on the track team. “It definitely disrupts the whole team atmosphere, but I understand. Even if it’s not the same experience, I don’t want to go home.”

“The people who have been taking the measures safely, the off-campus students, it’s kind of a disadvantage towards them,” said student Charles Christie, who added, “Once it gets to a residence hall there’s no telling how many more students could get infected.”

“It’s not meant to punish them, it’s just to get a handle on whether or not we have a larger spread or whether or not we believe we’ve contained it,” said MacNamara. 

“The people in power are making sure people are doing what they’re doing to keep us here,” said Davis. 

Sacred Heart officials are working with DPH and city officials to try to figure out exactly what went wrong with the gathering at the bar. They’re also looking into whether any other establishments frequented by students might present a problem in the future. 

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